Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Litany of Errors

Are you still there?
Yes, it has been a long, long time since I last posted.
I've been busy.  It seems that's not a popular statement...but it's true.
My time has been spent hand quilting this:

I call it Delilah's Stare.  My contribution to the recent special Red &White exhibition at the Sydney Quilt Show.  You may have seen it earlier.  I started it in February 2012 and you can see its progress by clicking on the labels on the right of this blog under "red and white quilt".

Progress is the wrong word.  Quilting came to a halt as I was distracted by other quilts.   That happens.  When the NSW quilters guild announced a special red and white exhibition I thought I ought to pull the quilt out and continue my hand quilting.  About forty 5" blocks had already been quilted.   How hard could it be to quilt the other 75 blocks and 4 borders.  So, in the wee hours of February, 2015 I confidently entered my 90 sq" quilt into the exhibition and forgot about it.

At the time, I thought the cut off date for the  exhibition  was July 10th, but I was wrong. In March I learned that it was actually June 10th.  In a matter of seconds, I lost a month's quilting time!  Now my attention was focused on finishing the quilt and avoiding serious embarrassment.

There was a small problem but I thought I could overcome it.  Dear Coco, our incontinent poodle, quite likes keeping me company in my sewing corner.  She often curls up prepared to stay with me for many hours.  Well, you probably know what is coming.  She had laid down on my red and white quilt and there were 2 nasty yellow stains that had been left who knows how long ago.

Being the lazy quilter that I am, I use safety pin basting if possible.  Washing the quilt with safety pins in situ didn't seem like something real quilters would do.  So I removed the safety pins and thread basted my quilt.

Are you still there?  The story behind the quilt is long, but may be salutary for you.  Keep reading...

Then I submerged the quilt in cold water and watched as the red colour ran through the quilt.  Yes, I had pre-washed the red fabric.  But it still ran.  A few colour catchers and a few hours later, the red was safely contained in its correct place.  I couldn't tell if the yellow stains were gone but I just crossed my fingers.

I threw the quilt over the line to dry.  Don't do that.  Now I know better.  The wet weight tends to drag the quilt down and distort it.  Anyway.  Once dry I started back on the quilting.  Every 5" square took about 90 minutes.  The same for both the plain and the churn dash blocks.  I couldn't quilt more than 3 a day before my fingers and eyes gave out.

Then I noticed that I was running very low on needles.  I use Piecemaker size 12 quilting needles.  Only those will do.  And I didn't know where to buy them.  Dear Janet from quiltsalott came to the rescue and sent me a packet she had lying around while I waited for a new supply to travel from California to Sydney.

Are you still there?  I know I am being long winded, but finishing "Delilah's Stare" was a long process.

As I got closer to the border I noticed that on 2 sides the wadding didn't quite reach to the edge.  I honestly don't understand how that happened;  of course I had to patch some wadding before I could quilt there.  Each border took a week to quilt.  After washing and binding the quilt I put the label on at 3pm on Wednesday 10th June.  Just made the deadline.

The show was last week.  It was certainly an achievement to get that quilt hung and I have to thank my family for going without my usual attention while I quilted my fingers to the bone.  I have learned a lot, most importantly: do not enter a quilt into an exhibition unless it is close to finish or finished.

You can view quilts in the exhibition here.


Ann Marie said...

Looks fabulous. Worth all the struggles in the end. If you hadn't entered it, it may not have gotten finished. I have a couple lingering projects that need that kind of motivation to be completed.

Maxine said...

Your quilt is beautiful. Hope it wins a prize.

audrey said...

Good for you to get this beautiful quilt finished! Sorry about your bleeding issues and the shortage with the batting though. It's tough to work to a deadline and then to have struggles with other issues as well makes it feel like it's almost too much effort.:) Glad you were able to finish up in time to see it hanging at the show!

Dawn said...

It looks fantastic, who would guess what it's been through? The quilting is quite beautiful.
I am very impressed and glad you shared it - with us and at the show.

Janet O. said...

Lovely quilt, Liz! No one would suspect the back story, but it certainly creates angst in us all as we read along. Glad it all worked out in the end (including the stains)! : )

Julie Fukuda said...

I have to hand it to you, there were so many times you could have just given up but you persevered and created a lovely work of art. Thanks for sharing the story and lessons learned. Glad to see I am not the only quilter trying to get needles from some place else. (never seen those sold here either).

Me and My Stitches said...

Your quilt looks amazing, and what a story! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at all of the mishaps! So glad that you finished it on time, and it really is beautiful! I like Piecemaker needles too, but do you find that the eyes break out really quickly?